Thousands of hospital appointments every day are not needed and should be scrapped or replaced with virtual health assessments on Skype or app, said the most prominent doctor in England.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England Health Director, said that the current outpatient system is not suitable for the purpose.
A report by the Royal College of Physicians estimates that one-fifth of face-to-face consultations are not necessary.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England Health Director, said the current outpatient system is not suitable for the purpose
He says the health chiefs should embrace Skype, apps and online tools, claiming that thousands of patients will be spared hospital visits and free time from work or school – while saving the millions of NHS.
Writing a preface to the report, Professor Powis said it was time to "catch the nettle" and reduce some of the 118 million outpatient appointments in NHS hospitals in England each year.
He said: "It is right to look at ways to cut unnecessary appointments, save thousands of trips, reduce traffic and pollution, and make the national health service more efficient.
A report by the Royal College of Physicians says health care professionals should embrace Skype, apps and online tools, claiming that thousands of patients will be spared from hospital visits and work or school – while saving millions of NHSs
"For many people, care can be delivered more timely and conveniently closer to home, from GP surgery specialists or using technology in new and exciting ways."
The report states that the number of outpatient appointments in England has doubled in the last decade. They now account for 85% of all hospital activities outside of A & E, costing around £ 200 at a time.
A total of 5% of UK traffic each day is related to the NHS. Official data show that one in five appointments is canceled by hospitals or is not attended by the patient.
However, patient groups fear that demolition appointments can lead to serious medical problems.
Caroline Abrahams, of Age UK, said: "Most over-75s are not online, so for them getting hospital doctors to perform sessions in GP surgeries is a much better bet than Skype or FaceTime."